Despite its enormous popularity, Kickstarter is still not as well known in the small business community as you would expect. If you haven’t heard about this crowdfunding platform, read on and I’ll share how this still-new service is shaking up the startup and new product world.
Kickstarter is a funding platform as the screenshot above states, but let’s unpack that just a bit. This is not a venture capital or angel investor network. The simple explanation I share is this: You are pre-selling a product before its finished and getting real customers to take a risk on you by purchasing ahead of production.
Your “product” might be a movie, or a music CD, or a piece of art, or a new 3D printer that you’ve invented. There are some boundaries (guidelines) and you can read about them here , but more fun to consider the statistics.
- 26,431 projects have successfully funded (at publication time; they update daily).
- Of those, 18,271 raised between $1,000 and $9,999.
That’s not a lot of money. But if you’re a small, micro business and you want to test the waters and launch a new product (again, product can be defined in many ways that might fit what you do), Kickstarter is one of the top places to consider. Some projects have hyper-funded — seven have raised over $1,000,000.
The Kickstarter website helps define what a “project” is:
- A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it. A project is not open-ended. Starting a business, for example, does not qualify as a project.
- We currently support projects in the categories of Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater.
As you can see, there’s a lot of room for small business owners to create a project and get funds to make it a reality.
Here are a few of my current favorites:
- OpenROV : A do-it-yourself underwater robot that has potential for helping medical and scientific research, not to mention it looks like a lot of fun.
- Small Projects : This is the list or category of projects under $1,000 and it is often filled with some of the most entrepreneurial-minded ideas. Right now, the new closet guitar hanger  looks pretty interesting.
Gadgets and consumer items tend to be super popular when designed well. Books, music and films are hyper-popular, too. The Kickstarter team offers up its staff picks and there are also curated collections. I mention all of these to help you brainstorm if a crowdfunded project or product is in your future. I’ve tried it a few times and even though my projects have not funded I have learned a ton and adapted my business. I view it as a real-time customer research lab.
Let us know if you launch a Kickstarter  project and your experiences.